My Life As A Warrior….

warriors 2007

I was planning on posting this earlier, but after something like this happens it’s difficult to find the words to say. And for those of you who aren’t sports fans and who don’t love any team, just stop reading this right now because you won’t get it.

I’m going to loosely use a quote from Brad Pitt’s Billy Beane in Moneyball: It’s hard not to be romantic about basketball.

I was never attached to any other team, nor did i even dedicate myself to any other sport. Sure, I followed and cheered for certain teams, but when it came down to emotional loyalty it’s always just been the Warriors.

For years I’ve had something written for if we ever won the NBA Championship, but as I return to it now after it’s actually happened, I can see that my feelings are slightly different than how I had imagined them being.

First, let me give you some background on myself as a fan. I attended my first Warriors game with my dad at age 5, and I can still vividly remember instances such as Manute Bol running up the court and telling my dad that he looked like a spider, or thinking Keith Jennings was a little kid and wondering why he was playing with a bunch of adults. I also remember watching the player introductions as the crowd booed Tom Gugliotta because he had just left our team. Little did I know that Arena in Oakland would become a second home for me. I grew up there and had so many memories that I could dedicate a television series just for that story arc. Since I was a kid, I’ve been made fun of for wearing Warriors attire because we weren’t good, and laughed at for rooting for a team that won’t make the playoffs. But I took every loss badly and every win like it was the finals. It wasn’t just a game for me. It was too much a part of my life for it to be just a game. For those fans who haven’t experienced a lot of success from your team, you know it’s the little things that give you a greater joy than winning a championship will for a successful team’s fan. It’s always been the little things. When Jason Richardson won the slam dunk contest the first time, it was the first “title” we had held since I had been born. I was so ecstatic that I cried. It was like winning a championship to me back then because actually winning a championship seemed impossible. And amidst all this I had become accustomed to not making the playoffs so much so that I barely even paid attention to the postseason.

While living in Los Angeles for the past 8 years I’ve suffered through torture being mocked by Lakers fans for loving a team that doesn’t have 16 championships. But I just tell them my faith as a fan has been tested. I’ve proven my loyalty. And sadly they can’t say the same. They’ve won so much that they expect it and it’s not as sweet for them. I’m glad that I didn’t grow up rooting for a team that was always winning. It’s like a kid who was born spoiled rich doesn’t appreciate what he has. Hardships as a fan have made me who I am today and I would NEVER trade that for anything.

It’s not easy for a team to become a part of you–especially this team. You identify with them and you share in their woes and tribulations. My whole life I’ve been the underdog. I’ve been bullied, told my dreams won’t come true, had the odds stacked against me, and been laughed at thousands of times for rooting for the underdog. And now the underdog is on top. And at this stage in my life, I’ve achieved a few of my dreams–this championship being one of them. But this was the dream that I felt was most impossible–not because I didn’t believe it could happen, but because it was a reality that I was used to. People play the lottery not because they believe that they’ll win, but because they HOPE they’ll win. They know it’s possible because they see other people winning it. Hoping and being loyal pays off in the end. All those years of struggle make this even sweeter.

I always imagined myself as an old man lying on my death bed as I watch us win a title for the first time. Luckily it’s come much sooner than that. I feel like it’s all lead up to this and I still can’t comprehend it being real. It’s like if your brother becomes famous you still just see him as your brother.

Honestly, I’ve faced so many losing seasons that this doesn’t even feel real–almost as if it didn’t happen. And I have to say, I’ve played in my head a million times what it would be like to win this championship, and I’ve pictured myself hysterically crying and going ballistic. But in the moment I was paralyzed. Sure I cried, but I was in shock. Was this all worth the journey? You better believe it, but this season was so perfect that I think I expected to win too much. We weren’t the underdog anymore. I’d be lying if I said that it wouldn’t have been more exciting if we still were. But there’s also something kinda nice about being the favorites for once. And it made this whole trip a lot less stressful than the past ones. I was nervous, but I think for once I hoped AND believed.

Thank you to my dad for taking me to my first game and for both of my parents for encouraging me to love something that didn’t just bring me immediate joy. For helping instill in me that winning isn’t everything–sometimes you have to enjoy the moment and relish in the little victories. Jackson Browne supplied me with my senior quote in high school: “We may loose and we may win, but we will never be here again.” No matter what the outcome, it’s the little things that make it worth it. This has summed up my life. And I owe it to my team and my parents for giving me that.

Also, thank you to my parents and my girlfriend for feeding my obsession–for knowing how important this is to me and making it important for you as well.

And lastly, thank you to the neigh sayers for making this more enjoyable. Without you there would be nothing to prove.

To me, it matters not how long it took us to win a championship, but the road we took getting there. I don’t care how many rings we have–just that right now, in this moment, we are the best. No one can ever take that away from us. After going back into the mind of my 10-year-old self watching loss after loss, this all seems like a dream. Every move we’ve made has lead up to this. The championship was surreal, but the journey was unforgettable. I will keep that lesson for as long as I live. And if this is possible, anything is.

But now what?

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Quick Movie Review: Jurassic World (2015)

jurassic world

Nothing can recreate the impact and significance that 1993’s Jurassic Park had on the movie industry and popular culture in general. So when watching the sequel/reboot film Jurassic World, we must first realize what it’s trying to do. It’s not attempting to be ridiculously groundbreaking or make improvements upon the original. Instead, it’s giving us more story and expanding the world which it’s taking on.

In fact, the special effects in Jurassic Park were so ahead of its time that the ones used in this current film seem pretty evenly compared.

But effects aside, let’s talk about story. Jurassic World doesn’t try to fool us into thinking that this is the “new beginning” of the franchise. It pays homage to the original and remains self-aware of where our culture stands on seeing something new and groundbreaking. We’ve seen dinosaurs come to life on the big screen and it was amazing. However, after three movies we’re almost jaded. Which is why the filmmakers are dead set on making sure we see a lot of new animals. They introduce manmade hybrid species which are scary in the sense that we’ve never read about them when we were kids and we don’t know what they look like or how they act. It somehow manages to capture the ’90s suspense of the original. The mystery is brought back to this film universe and Spielberg & Company have created another dinosaur movie that is really very scary.

Also, for the first time, we get the privilege to see the fully functioning theme park that we’ve been waiting for since the first film. It’s breathtaking and immersive, and for a moment we wish that it were an actual place. But then, of course, we’re reminded why this is all such a terrible idea.

In an age where films are boosting our confidence and telling us how smart we are, Jurassic World reminds us that we’re kinda stupid a lot of the time too.

If you’re a fan of the original, you should enjoy Jurassic World–fully equipped with not trying to outdo a classic. It may not be as innovative, but it’s quite possibly just as entertaining.

Twizard Rating: 97

Quick Movie Review: Jurassic Park III (2001)

jurassic park 3

Sam Neill is back in this third installment of the Jurassic Park trilogy after being absent from the previous film. In this one, the filmmakers use much of what works with the first film as far as the narrative. They apply the same formula in hopes to get a similar result. And it works!
Everything from attention grabbing openings to reuniting children with their families adds to the recipe for this highly entertaining film.

Doctor Alan Grant (Neill) is dragged to Isla Sorna (the dinosaur inhabited island from The Lost World) by an eccentric couple who may have a hidden agenda that Grant isn’t aware of.

Although it copies many elements from the first film, it makes its own mark with some great action sequences and a refreshingly consistent narrative. The script is much less convoluted than its predecessor and it’s full of quotable lines.

There is a brilliant scene involving pterodactyls–which may very well be the highlight of the entire film, and one of the best scenes from the trilogy.

Jurassic Park III retains the mystery and surprise that has been so key to making this series enjoyable. And I’ve said it before, but John Williams’ score is so fantastic. I get chills every time I hear that motif. The music provides such a peaceful contrast to the thrilling suspense going on at the same time–helping to underline the magnificence of these dinosaurs regardless of the specific circumstances that these characters have found themselves in.

The only thing that keeps me scratching my head is how the effects team can make these dinosaurs look so impressive, yet they can’t perfect the green screen technology.

Either way, this is a perfect denouement to a brilliant trilogy.

Twizard Rating: 96

Quick Movie Review: Entourage (2015)

entourage

If I’ve learned anything from binge-watching the entire Entourage series while awaiting the premiere of the movie itself, it’s that I can’t get enough of the boys from Queens. As I watched their two private jets fly off into the sunset, I sat impatiently wondering what was going to happen in the movie (I had avoided watching the trailer).

We begin pretty much right where the series finale leaves us. Vince (Adrian Grenier) decides that he wants to take on the role of director in a film that also features his brother, Johnny (Kevin Dillon). Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) is back from retirement and green lights the project that has the financiers up in arms.

As a fan of the show, I was hoping that I would get a film that feels like a longer version of an episode–not some over-accomplished plot featuring the characters in some faraway land getting into an ordeal that has nothing to do with their careers. But what I wanted was exactly what I got! Sure, it’s a little bigger–more cameos, more money, more women–but they don’t try to do too much with the storyline. And one hopes that a sequel is in the works as well.

Before watching the movie, my girlfriend hadn’t any of the show besides the first episode of season 1, and the last two episodes of the series. But she loves the movie so much that she has now decided to sit down and watch the whole series with me. And while I had filled her in on a lot of the happenings of the show, she didn’t have to ask any questions during the movie because the filmmakers do such a great job of setting up background for those who aren’t as familiar.

The cast is great, and so are the cameos. One of the biggest standouts is Haley Joel Osment in the role of Travis McCredle–the financier’s son who wants to change a bunch of things in Vince’s movie. This may be the comeback performance that we have been waiting for.

And obviously, it doesn’t really tell us anything new about the characters, but dives into Johnny’s psyche a lot. In the series we never get to see what is to come of the made-for-TV movie that Vince and Johnny are supposed to make together, but in the Entourage film we get a bigger and better version of that project.

The only bad thing I have to say about this film is that it ends too early. It’s kind of abrupt. You’ll see what I mean. It’s paced so evenly, that when it ends, it still feels like we have another 10 minutes or so.

Call it a bad thing that it ends too early, but I say that it’s a sign that we just don’t want the movie to be over.

But if you’re worried about what some critics have said regarding the movie, forget about them. If you’re a fan of the show you will love this film! It’s exactly what you’ve been waiting for. Just a lot of fun!

Twizard Rating: 95

Quick Movie Review: The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)

lost world

Back before the 2000s, most sequels were pretty bad. But then here comes The Lost World–which may not be on par with it’s legendary predecessor, but can still hold its own as an entertaining action-thriller. A successful sequel considering the time period.

However, it’s not even close to perfect. It has a much slower setup, and the premise doesn’t have that life-altering importance that comes along with it. Many of the sequences feel disjunct from one another. Also, there’s not much character depth or true growth from any of the characters.

And why is everyone so much stupider in this one? I mean, it’s already bad enough that no one is briefed on strategies about surviving a T-Rex, but then you have characters doing things like getting freaked out by a snake which allows man-eating dinosaurs to spot them. In the first film, one of the things I applaud is that there aren’t a lot of stupid character decisions, but here they’re all over the place.

The Lost World still has the mystery of the first one–even though it’s missing the grandiose tone. But we can’t deny that this sequel is just as thrilling and visually impressive as its predecessor.

Twizard Rating: 90

Quick Movie Review: Tomorrowland (2015)

tomorrowland

The future. That’s all this movie is about. How we see the future, anyway. Whether it’s right or wrong (usually wrong), we have some sort of an idea. In the 1960s our culture saw the future as nothing that we could ever imagine. Everything was right with the world and we had flying cars–always flying cars. Now, we see the future as much more grim. The polar icecaps melt and the air isn’t breathable. We are obsessed with dystopian images. I mean, look at our movies and literature nowadays. But what Tomorrowland wants us to know is that if we believe it, it will more or less happen.

This film is very smart–smarter than most of its audience will be able to tell. It seems pretty black and white, but it’s not.

In intertwines two people (George Clooney and Britt Robertson) from two opposing generation’s stories and juxtaposes them. Clooney plays adult Frank, but for most of the first quarter of the movie we see Frank as a boy at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. Then we meet modern-day Casey (Robertson), who is a teenage girl obsessed with space and full of hope.

We get fantastic visuals of this mysterious place called “Tomorrowland”–which I won’t spoil for anyone. And we finally get a refreshing look at the future from The Jetsons or Back to the Future that we haven’t seen in film in awhile.

The first half of the movie plays out as more of a mystery–a really really fun one. We’re always feeling like we’re playing catch-up.

While many critics thought that the ending was a disappointment, I would have to disagree. Sure we’re left with more of a message than a wowing twist, but it’s a message that is worth a lot of weight.

There’s nothing really bad I can say about Tomorrowland. The narrative may be a bit uneven, but I think it’s necessary to convey that story at hand.

Maybe I was just so enamored by the breathtaking visuals, or maybe I was giddy about the refreshingly non-formulaic sci-fi adventure, but either way, those aren’t bad qualities for a movie to have.

Twizard Rating: 96